Monday, March 29, 2010

Political Discourse by Bumper Sticker

I've got a bumper sticker on my car. It says, "If you don't like Democrats or Republicans, you might be a Libertarian." I hope these sentiments make people chuckle, but I also hope they will make them pause and think. A lot of folks are very disillusioned with both parties these days. They have the attitude, "A pox on both your houses."

But that's the whole point of my bumper sticker. Did you know that there are more than two political parties in Delaware? It's not just a choice between chocolate and vanilla. Delaware has an Independent Party. We have a Constitution Party. We have a Libertarian Party. And the list goes on. These parties are made up of concerned, thoughtful, politically aware citizens who examined the platforms and the actions of the so-called "major" parties and found them wanting. If you are reading this article, I will go out on a limb here and assume that you too are a concerned, thoughtful, and politically aware citizen. Like many, you may have chosen a party when you were young and gradually evolved a political philosophy of your own as you matured. This often leads to an epiphany later in life and a change of party. Do you think now might be the time for such a self-examination? I encourage you to click the links to the websites of the political parties listed above and explore their ideas. If you like what you see there, you won't be alone. Fully 25% of the registered voters in Kent County are listed on the voters' rolls as "Other".

Of course, small parties face a few obstacles to success; some structural and some are in terms of perception. The major parties don't really want the competition, and the playing field is tilted against the smaller upstarts. Delaware enacted legislation this year, HB 245, which doubles the number of registered voters a party must have to get their candidates' names on the ballot. The Constitution Party, among others, has been shut out of the electoral process as a result. Doesn't sound like America, does it?  It might be appropriate to remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller.  He was speaking of the rise to power of the National Socialists in 1930s Germany.  He said:

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,

and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.


and by that time no one was left to speak up."

But most obstacles faced by the smaller parties are problems of perception. "I agree with your ideas, but you can't win." Or, "I don't want to waste my vote." These are not frivolous arguments. The simple, unadorned answer is that it will often be an uphill battle, but if the cause is just, the impossible can be achieved. David slew Goliath. And don't forget the examples of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Underdogs sometimes prove to be bulldogs. In the words of Gandhi:

First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

Then they fight you.

Then you win.

How will you ever get the kind of government you believe in, if you keep voting for people who won’t support your values? Sometimes you have to stand up for your principles. Whenever I have a hard time doing this, I find it helps to remember that I have children who will be living in this country after I’m gone. If your government and those who govern you are not up to the task, it's your responsibility to fix it. Sometimes that means taking a more difficult or unconventional path. Remember, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

I've got another bumper sticker on my car. It reads, "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."

Jess McVay
Will's Dad

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Internet Politics

I launched a Facebook page and in a day have picked up 38 fans so far. I don't know how that rates but I'm pretty happy with it. It's more votes than Bob Barr (Libertarian candidate for president in '08) got in the 32nd Representative District. Granted not all of the "fans" of the Facebook page are eligible to vote in the district I'm running in, but it's an important party and network building function. Incidentally, there are no laws about donating to a campaign that you aren't allowed to vote in...(hint).

Not only can people outside the district vote in their own elections, but they may also know other people in the district. At this point in the campaign, I need all the support I can find from wherever I can find it just to make inroads to the neighborhoods who will need to vote for me if I'm to stand a chance. My first move in the campaign ground game will be to take a drive around the district to see where everyone lives and get a feel for the parts I don't already know.

Once I've gotten a feel for the various neighborhoods in the district, I'll be looking to the people who are fans of the Facebook page, and the various other people NOT on the internet who have offered to help me already, to help me out in each of those neighborhoods. Everyone has friends that don't know each other. I need to meet all of yours so I can ask them to vote for me...and then I need them to introduce me to their friends...and their friends...

There are 12,000 voters in the 32nd district according to the latest report from the Dept. of Elections. I'd like to shake 12,000 peoples' hands and tell them, "I'm Will McVay, and I'd like you to take a chance on a Libertarian for the 32nd Representative District and vote for me." Libertarians can reach beyond the 5,500 democrats, beyond the 3,300 republicans, and beyond the 3,000 independents and I want to appeal to all of them.

Thanks again everyone who's already a fan of the Facebook page. Please, tell your friends...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Busy Doing ... Stuff ...

Even though it's only been a day since my first post, I feel like I've gotten a lot done and I'm getting really excited to get into this. I'm spending LOTS of time on the Delaware Department of Elections web site and the site for Kent County. I've already learned a lot about election finance law, voter registration patterns, voting patterns, election district layouts, and thanks to another cool site called Follow The Money I've been able to get lists of most of the donors to the Democratic and Republican candidates from last cycle.

Libertarians don't fit the convention of "Right / Left" and are actually better understood as sitting at the top of the "Liberty Dial". This YouTube video from Focus On Liberty explains that well.

What this means in practical terms is that I am confident I can attract donors and voters from both parties. I spent some time copying the maps I found of the election districts within the 32nd Representative District into the Google Map at the top of the page. Combining this map with the information I found about voter registrations, voter turnout in the elections of 2008, and the information available about registered voters in the district, I should be able to get a good feeling for where I should go and who I should try to talk to in order to build the Libertarian Party in Kent County and promote my campaign.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nominated at Libertarian Convention

I attended the Libertarian Party of Delaware Convention on Saturday where I was nominated by the party to stand for election to the 32nd District Representative seat. I've spent the past day or so trying to get Facebook, Twitter, and set up so that I can try to make use of as much social media as possible. This blog and this first entry is another step in that direction. I'll also be setting up a website, YouTube channel, and anything else I can think of over the next couple of weeks.

At this point in my campaign, the most valuable thing to me is suggestions. I've never run for office before and have NO idea what I'm doing in this campaign. I plan to do a lot of walking through the various neighborhoods within the district to introduce myself to the voters, but any help I can get finding larger groups to meet with, getting interviews or questionnaires from the media, or learning more about the issues important to voters in the 32nd District will be greatly appreciated.

I'm looking at a campaign staff of my family, some of their friends and some of my friends. We hardly count as experienced political operatives, so I also need volunteers to help out with the campaign generally or to help me figure out how fund-raising and campaign committees work so I don't get arrested for accepting donations the wrong way or fund the whole thing out of my somewhat limited pockets.

Anyway, I'm grateful to the Libertarian Party for giving me this opportunity, looking forward to the campaign, and hope to at least force the other candidates to speak to libertarian principles. Please feel free to comment if you have any ideas or want to help out!